No to Hudud, Yes to New Politics



Aliran holds that the 1957 Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation.

Article 3 proclaims that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation”.

Article 11(1) further states that “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion” and Article 11( 3) states that ‘Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs; to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law”.

And further, Article 11(4) states: “State law, and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.”

The Constitution does not unequivocally state that we are a secular nation. It does not state that we are a theocratic Islamic nation either. In spite of tensions and tribulations, this Constitution has stood us for almost 58 years.

But there are now attempts to amend various laws to push us in the direction of an Islamic nation.
The Kelantan state assembly passed the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Bill (II) to introduce hudud law in the state of Kelantan on 25 November 1993.

This Bill was passed unanimously by all 36 State Assembly members, including two from the Barisan Nasional (BN). That was about 22 years ago. But the law could not be implemented because it required an amendment to the Federal Constitution. Many also thought that the Syariah Enactment that was passed was unconstitutional.

This was because under Schedule Nine of the Constitution, “civil and criminal law and procedure, and the administration of justice” falls under the sole purview of the federal government while the state government has jurisdiction only over “Islamic personal law relating to marriage, divorce, guardianship, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, family law…”.

On 19 March 2015, the Kelantan state assembly unanimously approved the Syariah Criminal Code (II) (1993) 2015 Enactment. Thirty-one Pas, 12 Umno State Assembly members and one sole PKR Assembly member supported the Bill.

Since then, Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang has submitted two Private Member’s Bills to the federal Parliament to:

1. seek approval for the state to legislate punishment for crimes under the Penal Code and

2. amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal) Jurisdiction Act 1965, to allow Islamic courts in the state to mete out punishments such as the death penalty for apostasy and amputation of limbs for thefts.

The implementation of hudud law—we have been told by its supporters—will not apply to non-Muslims. That might be so, theoretically speaking. In face, however, there is no doubt that the implementation of hudud laws will impact upon the lives of non-Muslims, who comprise about 38 per cent of the population, on several grounds.